The Benefits of Mindfulness and Yoga in Addiction Recovery

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Recovery doesn’t have to be treatments and therapies with fancy names. There are alternative options to help guide you through recovery. When these experiential therapy options are used alongside more traditional therapies such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and family therapy, great success can be found in your sobriety and overall recovery. One such method of experiential therapy is mindfulness, such as meditation and yoga. Many facilities offer mindfulness sessions due to the awareness they can bring to a person’s inner self and the world around them. 

Defining the Two

Although mindfulness and yoga ideas may seem simple, they can significantly affect your recovery and your life overall. Understanding the basics of mindfulness and yoga allows you to build a foundation of knowledge to further engage with these specific treatment approaches. 


Mindfulness is a form of meditation that aids you in becoming aware of yourself and your environment. It brings attention to what you are thinking and feeling in the present moment. There are multiple ways to practice mindfulness, such as deep breathing, guided meditation, and yoga forms. Even if this form of meditation is only done for a few minutes each day, it can still have significant effects on your recovery. It is all about bringing a connection between your inner self and your external environment while living in the present moment. 


Yoga has been around for thousands of years, thought to be developed around 3000 BCE near modern-day India. The Western world adopted yoga practices in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Yoga is a mindfulness practice that brings together your body and mind through the use of physical postures, meditations, breathing techniques, and relaxation. There is a multitude of different types of yoga around the world, including:

  • Kundalini Yoga
    • Kundalini yoga includes challenging the mind and body through chanting, singing, meditation, and kriyas. Kriyas are specific poses that are paired with breath work and chanting. 
  • Vinyasa Yoga
    • Vinyasa yoga is also known as “flow yoga” and is the most commonly practiced. It connects breath and movement, and is perfect for beginners.
  • Hatha Yoga
    • Hatha yoga focuses on the balance between strength and flexibility, physical and mental energy, and breath and the body. 
  • Ashtanga Yoga
    • Ashtanga yoga consists of of six series of specific poses taught in order and does not include music. It is for those who like routine or a more physical yoga.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

Practicing mindfulness often occurs in a guided session with individuals present; everyone is seated on the floor or chairs. The teacher will begin explaining meditation practice before starting deep breathing exercises, such as alternate nostril breathing. You will need to sit comfortably, with your back straight, and bring awareness to your breathing. Ensure that your chest is open, and begin centering on the sensations you feel, sounds you hear, and thoughts you may be thinking. Each mindfulness session will be different, but it is crucial to remember is that you will reap the benefits no matter how the session goes for you. It can take time to notice any positive changes occurring within the self, but they will come. Mindfulness is a skill that you must practice to strengthen. 

How Does Yoga Work?

When you go to a yoga session, it will typically start with an explanation from the instructor about breath awareness, then move into a warm-up. The instructor will demonstrate the various poses, making adjustments to the class individuals to ensure they are correctly done. The poses can take place on the floor, while standing, or using a chair. Advanced breathing exercises, known as pranayama, can also be used alongside yoga techniques. The session will end with guided relaxation from the yoga instructor. The purpose of yoga is to help you gain more flexibility and awareness of your body, breathing, mind, and spirit. Using a combination of yoga and mindfulness techniques can help you become stronger over time and learn to relax.

How Does Yoga and Mindfulness Help Recovery?

Mindfulness meditation can help rebalance the brain’s chemicals, such as dopamine. Those struggling with addiction have experienced brain changes, causing a mixture of high and low feelings. Mindfulness meditation can help restore the damage addiction causes in the brain. Once a substance leaves a person’s system, their dopamine levels drop and cause the brain to crave more of the substance that allowed it to feel so euphoric in the first place. Mindfulness allows dopamine to be released in a natural way that aids in reducing cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Yoga targets stress, a common relapse trigger while in addiction recovery. It can also help with reducing urges and cravings. Yoga may also create better sleep habits, which may be essential to insomnia caused by withdrawal symptoms. Yoga causes you to become physically and mentally stronger, which is the strength you need to make progress in your recovery. 

Across the United States, treatment facilities have begun using alternative treatment approaches that center on mind and body healing. Two such practices are mindfulness and yoga, which help individuals learn to cope with stress, anxiety and become aware of their inner self and external environment. Other benefits of these two practices involve better sleep, stronger muscles, improved cognitive functioning, and reduced cravings. Everlast Recovery Center utilizes these treatment approaches combined with traditional therapies to help our clients recovering from addiction and find their happiness in sobriety. Yoga and mindfulness practices can be integrated into daily life even after clients leave our facility. For more information on yoga and mindfulness in addiction recovery and how we use it in our program, contact us today at 866-DETOX-25. Together we can create a plan that works for you and lands you back on your feet. Find the happiness that sobriety can bring you now. 

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